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St. Laurence's Gate Town Wall and Gate
 

County

Louth

Coordinates

N 53° 42' 57.24"   W 006° 20' 49.92"

Nearest town

Drogheda

Grid Ref.

O 09095 75295

Map No.

43

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

32

Date of visit

Sunday 14 June 2015

GPS Accuracy (m)

3
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Looking along St. Laurence Street towards the town gate.


Though it's known with the name of St. Laurence's Gate, this is actually a barbican, an outpost or gateway, which provided additional protection to the town gate which would stand behind it. A drawbridge would link the two structures that were separated by a ditch.
This is the only intact barbican surviving in Ireland and it is said to be one of the finest in Europe.
It was built by the Normans around 1250 when Drogheda was enclosed within a defensive wall.
It consists of two massive rounded towers with 2 metres thick walls joined by an archway at the street level, a cross-wall at the first and second floors, and a bridge at the top level.
The towers have a diameter in excess of 6 metres and the whole structure is over 15 metres tall.
The archway wall has a vertical slot where a portcullis could be operated to block the access to the town.
Each tower has an in-wall spiral staircase with access doorways looking at each other across the passageway, which is about 3.50 metres wide and is aligned along the northeast-southwest (70°-250°) axis.
Originally this defensive gateway was one storey lower than it is today. The third storey was added in the 15th century along with the stepped battlements to the top of the two towers and along the bridge wall.
The original height of this barbican can still be seen today.
Its original name was Great East Gate, but it was later renamed after the St. Laurence's Priory which once stood just outside the walls on this side of the town.
The barbican defended the town of Drogheda two times. The first time in 1317 when Edward Bruce, brother of Robert king of Scotland, attacked the town. The second time in 1641 when sir Phelim O'Neill attempted to take Drogheda. In 1649 Cromwell's army attacked Drogheda with his cannons on Millmount. The walls were destroyed, the only part that survived was this barbican.

We came here for the first time on May 30th, 1998.


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